The Tennessee Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt on Tuesday, this after a woeful 1-6 start to the season and a 3-20 record in just under a year-and-a-half with the franchise.
While Whisenhunt’s record in Tennessee was abysmal, was firing him necessarily the right move?
“I don’t think it was,” former Titans linebacker and three-time All-Pro Keith Bulluck said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “You brought him in last year. You got rid of Mike Munchak. You brought him in last year to get things going in a new direction. You drafted (Marcus) Mariota with (the second overall) pick this year, and Mariota has been hurt the last two games and the Titans have been sputtering. I don’t think you fire him. I think the ownership really got a taste of what the temperament has been here in Nashville. I just moved back here two years ago, so I’m a little closer to the situation with the Titans. (Seeing) the Titans just getting obliterated by the Texans, I think that was enough for the ownership to see and feel like they needed to make that decision, in my opinion.”
The Titans lost to the Texans, 20-6, in Houston on Sunday. Tennessee has now lost 16 of its last 17 games, including six straight overall and 12 straight against AFC opponents. As a result, Whisenhunt, who signed a five-year contract prior to the season, is gone.
“I just feel that ownership got a feel of what the temperament has been from fans,” Bulluck said. “Because the fans here have been kind of not on (board with what) Whisenhunt (has been doing). And I personally think that you just drafted a first-round quarterback, you’ve only had five games with him, you got to at least give him the rest of the season because you don’t know what happens when Marcus Mariota comes back. Do I think things would have gotten better based on what I’ve seen this year? No, not necessarily. But all in all, I don’t think you do it right now in the middle of the season.”
It’s also possible that Whisenhunt’s personality played a role in his firing. He reportedly didn’t get along with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, and another former Whisenhunt quarterback, Matt Leinart, was elated that Whisenhunt was canned, tweeting, “Now Marcus Mariota has a chance.” Even media have called Whisenhunt’s demeanor nasty at times.
Did Whisenhunt’s personality come into play here?
“I mean, I’m sure. I’m sure,” Bulluck said. “I know he’s not big in the community. He hasn’t been big in the community – and I’m not saying that coaches need to – but I know Nashville is one of those small communities, small cities, and the Titans are a big fixture in the Nashville community. And for the head coach to not really care and reach out to the fans, that’s big. That might be big anywhere, but especially here where a franchise is 15, 16 years old. I can’t really speak for media, but I know that some former players that are in the media have their opinion on Coach Whisenhunt. I never personally met the guy. I met him in Arizona as a free agent back in 2010, so I can’t really say, but I’ve heard pretty much the same things that you just spoke about.”